1. WordPress has shown its staying power
WordPress has been around since 2003 – it celebrated its 10th birthday in May 2013. It’s evolved in that time from a blogging platform to a fully fledged content management system for the Web. This allows for the creation of dynamic Web 2.0 pages, which can be rapidly updated. Plus WordPress’ visual editor means that it’s possible to create web pages without knowing a line of code.
2. WordPress is open source
This means that it is free to download and use. Some other website platforms charge a monthly fee for their continued use. With WordPress, once you have a suitable web host, it costs nothing to install and upgrades are free, forever.
3. The numbers speak for themselves
WordPress now powers 21.2% of all websites (source). With so many people using it, there’s a lot of help and support out there. The WordPress Codex is the home of the official documentation, and the WordPress.org forums are a source of hands-on help. Hunt around the web and you’ll find many WordPress tutorials. Video tutorials are particularly useful, as you see exactly how to perform a task step-by-step, and can pause/rewind/replay as required.
4.The UI is user friendly
The admin user interface looks stylish, and is easy to use. WordPress 3.8, the latest version, even lets you choose your own admin colour scheme. There are 8 to choose from – if the Default scheme doesn’t appeal, why not try Coffee, Midnight or Ectoplasm?
With WordPress, it’s a simple matter to add new posts or pages, with a WYSIWYG interface for adding formatting to text. Images or media can be added via a simple drag and drop interface to the Media Library, from which they can be inserted into any web page. WordPress automatically creates smaller versions of your images for you, so multiple uploads of different image sizes are unnecessary.
You can create multiple navigation menus with WordPress, and it’s easy to add or remove items. If you need to reorder a menu, you just drag and drop the items, or move them to create submenu links.
5. WordPress sites can be enriched with plugins
The basic WordPress functionality is pretty awesome, and you can extend it even further with plugins. The WordPress.org plugin repository has over 28,000 free plugins for download.
Need an event management system? Try Events Manager. Want to run a forum on your site? bbPress will do the trick. Like to have a stylish image gallery? NextGEN Gallery has multiple ways to show off your pictures.
A number of plugins also have premium features and support if you’re prepared to pay a little extra. Some companies also retail their own premium plugins, such as Gravity Forms, considered to be the best form generation plugin for WordPress.
6. You can choose from thousands of different looks for your website
The look of a WordPress site is controlled by a theme, and there is a huge range of pre-built ones to choose from. The default install of WordPress 3.8 comes with three – Twenty Twelve , Twenty Thirteen and Twenty Fourteen. Each of these has a different look and style.
For more choice, the WordPress Themes Directory has over 2,000 free ones to choose from. The filter and tag interface allows you to sort through the themes by various criteria – colour scheme, number of columns, layout, features and subject. Or you can download a theme from a theme marketplace such as ThemeForest for a modest amount of money.
Nowadays, it is a smart move to go for a theme which is responsive i.e. the page layout adapts to different screen sizes. This means that it will look good on smartphones and tablets as well as desktops and laptops.
7. Themes can be tailored further to meet individual requirements
Themes can be customised to your own needs by the use of Child Themes. This concept allows you to take a theme you like and make your own unique version. It will be based on the parent theme, and share most of the same code, but you can change the style to suit your own colour scheme, branding and so on. You can also add extra functionality which the original theme did not possess, such as extra widget areas or new page templates.
Theme Frameworks, which rely on child themes, are often used by developers. Some are free, and others you pay for. The parent theme is a solidly built theme with well written code that acts as a foundation to build upon. Thematic, Thesis and Genesis are all well-known WordPress theme frameworks. You can download a child theme to go with a framework, or create your own.
8. WordPress is ideal for blogging
Writing a regular blog is an excellent way to drive traffic to your website. Search engines love fresh content, and blog posts provide content in an easily digestible form. The trick is to get started, and then keep going on a regular basis.
Blogging also helps you understand and engage with your audience, and gives you something of value to share on social media. The Jetpack plugin’s Publicize module makes it easier to share your posts across various social media.
9. A vibrant community of developers is continually working on WordPress
The WordPress software usually has two major updates a year, with a number of minor updates. Each release improves features such as security, user interface design and file management. The development team encourages people to contribute to WordPress – see the Make WordPress page, where you can join a group of interest.
10. WordPress developers are a friendly bunch
I was lucky enough to attend the WordCamp Edinburgh 2012 and WordUp Edinburgh 2013. I was welcomed by the community, heard some inspiring presentations and met some really interesting people. It’s not all about talking shop – the social evenings following a day’s presentations are the most important part for some!